Your vacation rental property has the potential to be the highlight of someone’s vacation and learning how to market your home on HomeAway and VRBO will help you garner a steady stream of bookings and earn more revenue from your rental.
While you may know your property is a gem, it’s important to put a little marketing muscle behind your HomeAway and VRBO listings to make sure travelers can see it too. Crafting listings to make your property shine and set it apart from others is a worthwhile and important task for property owners. That could mean showing off your home’s private hot tub with panoramic mountain views. Or, maybe it’s emphasizing that your property backs up to a golf course, or showcasing the backyard pool that’s sure to make a splash with families traveling with kids.
You’ve got about 8 seconds to make your property stand out before travelers move on to the next property, according to HomeAway experts. These tips will help you market your vacation rental on HomeAway and VRBO and keep your calendar booked for months to come.
Use high-quality photography in your HomeAway and VRBO listings
You know the cliché: A picture is worth a thousand words. But when it comes to vacation rentals, this especially rings true.
“Travelers shop with their eyes,” says Andrea Bridges-Smith, HomeAway Global Product Marketing Manager of Education. “Featuring high-resolution photos are the best way to showcase your property and you can upload up to 50 on your listing.”
Think like a real estate professional as you approach your listing, especially when it comes to capturing great photos.
“It might seem like an added cost, but getting your property professional photographed will pay dividends since the photos will be re-used for the length of time you intend to rent you property,” agrees Rick Baker, a Massachusetts realtor.
Here are a few more photo tips:
- Make sure the photos of your property are up-to-date.
- Use a wide-angle lens to give potential renters more scope
- Take advantage of natural lighting. The magic hour at dusk and dawn casts a warm, inviting glow that rivals any Instagram filter.
- Snap and upload plenty of photos showcasing all the wonderful amenities throughout your property, Bridges-Smith says
- Showcase the various rooms so vacationers can start assigning rooms to their family members or friends in their imagination.
- Be sure to feature exterior and interior photos.
- Remove photos that show pets. Sorry, Fido! While your property may not smell like pets, photos of your furry or feathered companions, dog bowls, or signs that say things like “my kids have four legs” might subconsciously deter renters, including those who have allergies, points out marketing strategist Madison White with Washington Capital Partners.
- Carefully check all photos that have a TV in them, White suggests. You want to make sure the television is off and not tuned to a program that a future guest could find off-putting.
After following these tips, don’t be surprised if you start seeing your vacation rental trending on Pinterest on dream vacation boards.
Write a Riveting Description of Your Rental for Your Property Listing
Photos are certainly important, but so are well-written listing descriptions that can really help sway travelers who are getting serious about finding a place to rent. We gleaned some tips from HomeAway and Amanda McConnon, a copywriter and content strategist at Guest Hook, an agency that focuses on copywriting, specifically listing descriptions.
Here are some expert tips for writing your HomeAway and VRBO property listings:
- Tell a story with your listing. This is where you want your writing to be experiential, McConnon says. Instead of saying something generic like “beachfront deck!” tell your potential renters about how the palms sway and how they’ll be steps away from the sugary white sand beaches and that there are lounge chairs that are the perfect perch for watching pastel sunsets.
- Highlight your favorite features in the title, suggests HomeAway. Is your property historic, luxe, beachy? Focus on location. Is it steps from the beach, ski-in/ski-out, in the heart of downtown? For HomeAway listings, you don’t want to mention bedroom or bathroom counts in the title because its listed right below.
- Be clear in your listing. Yes, you’ll want to flex your writing prose in the descriptions, but you also want to make it easy for guests to find out how many beds are in the property, where you’re located and other details like whether there’s a fireplace or a pool, McConnon says.
- Set your neighborhood apart. You can’t rely on your destination to be your sole selling point, especially if you’re in a highly sought-after market, McConnon points out. Here’s where you want to delve into what’s unique about your neighborhood and why your property is a must-book.
- Be friendly. Come across as inviting, but professional, she says.
- Know your vacationers, McConnon suggests. Do you attract honeymooners? Highlight where they can watch sunsets or any cozy nooks in your property. If you get a lot of multi-generational families, be sure to discuss shared spaces as well as private rooms.
Coupled with photos, a great description of your property can help optimize your vacation rental listing, ultimately getting vacationers excited about your property and maximizing your bookings.
Know the Market Trends
Travelers prefer vacation rentals over hotels. When you have a good grasp of exactly what travelers are looking for in vacation property rentals, you can really tailor your listing to speak to them. Thankfully, HomeAway has done some leg work for you with market research that reveals some interesting travel trends.
Here are a few trends that HomeAway points out in its 2018 Vacation Rental Industry Trends report.
- Niche markets are gaining traction. For example, 31% of travelers want to take their pet on vacation with them. 6 in 10 households have at least one dietary restriction. You can easily tweak your listing to show amenities like a fenced yard, or kitchen stocked with cooking accessories so guests can dine in with meals that best suit their eating plans.
- Trip lengths are shrinking. This is worth noting if you’ve got minimum stay requirements that might need adjusting. According to HomeAway’s report, short trips that are 4 to 6 nights and long vacations that are 7 nights or long are both down by 4 percent over a 3-year period. Meanwhile, long weekend trips have increased 8 percent since 2014.
- Road tripping is a travel trend. 33% of travelers are taking trips to destinations within 250 miles of their home, according to HomeAway. The analysts point out that road trippers aren’t looking for sterile hotels. Rather, they want unique digs, like some R&R at a cabin, a home that’s perched on a stunning landscape, or a place that’s in an up-and-coming artistic neighborhood.
One more tip courtesy of the team at HomeAway: Showcase your amenities. When travelers make their selections, they search and filter by amenities like air condition, outdoor grill, pool. In the amenities tab, check all the categories that apply to your property, then, for the bonus round, include some extra details. Do you have Cuisinart appliances in the kitchen? How about pool toys and beach accessories for families.
Set Competitive Rates
Finally, you want to make sure that you’re earning a fair price on your market rental, so pricing your vacation rental dynamically is key. HomeAway has a MarketMaker tool to help you get up-to-date information on market data so you can set your rates accordingly. This will also help you track rates of similar properties in your market and set earnings goals. If market conditions change, the MarketMaker tool will alert you so that you can adjust your prices, accordingly. It also allows property owners to prioritize whether they want to maximize occupancy or only rent for top dollar.
Of course, high and low seasons vary depending on your market and can be affected by major sporting events, music festivals, ski season, Spring Break or professional conferences. Keep tabs on visitor bureau event calendars to find out what events or attractions are happening in town that could potentially drive up demand. You may also want to reconsider your minimum stay requirement if you’re having a tough time attracting vacationers. Also, if your goal is to maximize rental revenue, try to be flexible with your own schedule so you’re not occupying the home during peak weeks or weekends.
Also, TurnKey excels when it comes to helping homeowners set rates. We can set rates that vary based on the day of the week and time of the year to make sure you’re earning a great profit. A lot is layered into the pricing structure, including the home’s size, amenities, location, recent home remodels and guidance from the local General Manager. TurnKey also monitors the market availability calendars on sites like VRBO and HomeAway. The majority of homeowners participate in this program. Homeowners can set a floor rate, meaning we’ll never price your home lower than that rate.
Hire a property manager to market your property
Listing your home, with great descriptions and high-quality photos, on sites like HomeAway, VRBO and Airbnb are worthwhile investments because these sites can bring more visibility to your listing.
But what if you don’t have the time to write a standout listing and take high-quality photographs? Or, perhaps you don’t have professional camera gear. Maybe you live remotely.
You can considering hiring a property manager, like TurnKey, to carry out these important listing tasks and help you increase your revenue from bookings. Beyond creating your property listing, property managers can make the entire vacation rental process seamless for property owners, responding to questions from guests, cleaning your home in between bookings, keeping your availability and prices up to date and more.
With these tips in mind, you can be assured your property will get plenty of attention on sites like HomeAway and VRBO and attract vacation renters eager to book with you.
Want to secure more bookings on HomeAway and VRBO? Schedule a consultation with us here.